Indonesian embassy seeks new moratorium following fresh maid abuse claims

KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 — The Indonesian embassy here has recommended that its government suspend the placement of maids in Malaysia following fresh abuse allegations, barely months after a two-year moratorium was lifted to alleviate the shortage of domestic workers locally.

The New Sunday Times (NST) quoted Indonesian embassy Information, Social and Cultural Affairs Minister-Counsellor Suryana Sastradiredja as saying that the embassy has recommended an indefinite suspension although the maids began their compulsory training earlier this month.

“We received reports that two maids were physically abused by a senior government official and his wife,” Suryana told NST, adding that the two victims were also not paid their salary.

“The official did not respect the agreement made between the leaders of our nations,” Suryana said. He declined to name the official but said that the two maids were recruited eight months ago during the moratorium period.

He said that one of the maids sought shelter at the embassy on Friday night, while the other has already returned home at the request of the official’s wife.

Asked whether a police report had been lodged, Suryana said the embassy was still considering whether it should do so as the allegations involve a high-ranking official.

“Diplomatic channels will be used. We will send a note to the Malaysian Home Ministry on Monday and wait for a reaction. The Malaysian government should act accordingly.”

Suryana said the continuation of the agreement to send maids here would depend on the punishment meted out.

The Indonesian government banned its people from working as maids in Malaysia in June 2009, following numerous cases of maids being abused by Malaysian employers.

Indonesia officially withdrew the moratorium on the sending of maids to Malaysia on December 1 last year.

Human Resources Minister Datuk S. Subramaniam even said in February that the government was optimistic that the first batch of Indonesian maids would arrive in Malaysia this month.

He said at the time that a total of 121 Malaysian employment agencies were working with their Indonesian counterparts on the placement of maids from the republic to Malaysia.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono met in Bali at the end of last year as part of efforts to resolve the issue amicably.

In an NST editorial today, the newspaper’s group managing director Abdul Jalil Hamid said that the embassy’s remarks raised the question of “how committed” Jakarta is to honouring its bilateral agreement with Putrajaya over the lifting of the moratorium.

The newspaper is seen as a reflection of the Najib administration’s stance as Abdul Jalil was Najib’s media strategist before becoming an editor.

“Jakarta should not unilaterally delay the lifting of the ban on sending maids to Malaysia.

“There are some 40,000 Malaysian families on the waiting list for Indonesian maids. Such unilateral action by Jakarta to prolong their agony is totally unacceptable,” said Abdul Jalil.


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